NFIB urges quick action by the legislature to repeal Emergency Powers Act
July 13, 2021 (Lansing) – The state’s leading small business advocate, the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), applauded the unanimous approval of the Unlock Michigan ballot initiative by the Board of State Canvassers today. NFIB is the only statewide business organization that supports the petition effort to repeal the Emergency Powers of Governor Act of 1945. The action by the Board came after being twice ordered by the state Supreme Court to do so. Democrats on the Board voted against certification at their last meeting, and supporters of the proposal appealed to the Supreme Court.
The state Senate is expected to act on the issue this week if it is submitted to the legislature in time for a vote. The House will take up the issue next week. If passed by a simple majority of both chambers, the Emergency Powers Act would be repealed without the approval of the governor.
“It’s about time,” said NFIB Michigan State Director Charlie Owens. “The secretary of state, and those who support the governor having absolute power to shut down our state, have been slow-walking this petition initiative for far too long. It is time for it to move forward and end the abuse of this obsolete law.”
The Unlock Michigan ballot initiative would repeal the Emergency Powers of Governor Act of 1945 (Public Act 302 of 1945). Governor Whitmer had been using the outdated law early in the Covid-19 pandemic to declare a continuous “State of Emergency” and issue executive orders that did not require legislative oversight or approval. The orders closed entire sectors of the economy and placed restrictions on many others. In October of last year, the state Supreme Court ruled the governor’s use of the law unconstitutional. However, NFIB and supporters of the petition effort believe the Act could again be used by a governor if it is not repealed.
Since the Supreme Court ruling, the governor has pivoted to issuing pandemic emergency orders through the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) and the Michigan Occupational Health and Safety Admiration (MIOSHA). A second petition initiative, “Unlock Michigan 2,” is being prepared that would limit such agency orders to no more than 28 days without legislative approval.
“The Michigan Supreme Court made it clear with their decision halting the governor’s abuse of the Emergency Powers of Governor Act of 1945 that the Legislature is an equal partner in our system of representative government, and their role must be respected,” said Owens.